Muscle pump is the swelling of your muscles during a workout or we can say that it is a temporary increase in muscle size during a workout. Getting a great muscle pump is one of the best feeling ever existing on earth. As ones, a legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger had said: “It is as the most satisfying feeling to me as same like having sex with women”. Muscle pump is the best & the most satisfying feeling inside the gym you feel. When the blood flow rushes towards working muscle as soon as you hit the iron inside the gym. Arnold Schwarzenegger adds on to muscle pump that “Not many people understand what a pump is. It must be experienced to be understood. It is the greatest feeling that I get. I search for this pump because it means that my muscles will grow when I get it. I get a pump when the blood is running into my muscles. They become really tight with blood. Like the skin is going to explode any minute. It’s like someone putting air in my muscles. It blows up. It feels fantastic.”
As I do perform the exercises from last seven years, the feeling of pump, is the ultimate sensation of living a great fit life. When you flex or contract your muscles, metabolic products like lactic acid, chlorides, inorganic phosphate, reactive oxygen spices build up inside the muscle. To remove these metabolites our body sends extra blood to the working muscles to clear of these products (metabolites). The amount of blood exits from the muscles is always less than the blood enters the muscles as some of the blood get trapped inside the veins during contraction, thus it leads to the gradual build-up of blood, and thus creating a pool of blood due to which muscles looks bigger and harder.
The three things are going on during each repetition you make, which are:-
i) Your body pumps more blood into your muscles to carry metabolites (i.e lactic acid) away, which makes your muscles swell.
ii) Metabolites pull water into the cells, making them larger.
iii) Muscle cells expand and they reduce the amount of blood that’s able to escape the muscle.
When your muscle fibers are relaxed, blood can easily pass between them. When they expand, they pinch off the veins that are trying to carry blood back to the heart. The net effect is that blood is being pumped into your muscles faster than it can leave, which make the blood “pool” in your muscles, and gives you a pump. The number of repetitions you perform, in scientific terms it is called Cellular fatigue, which involves exhausting a muscles to the point that the fibers can not contract forcefully anymore, which leads to more amount of blood get trapped inside, the more blood flow in working muscles remove the metabolite during anaerobic contractions and leads to more swelling, the more swelling occurs which leads to the insane, mind-blowing muscles pump.
And also to add on, the more blood flow the working muscles receives more nutrition and oxygen and thus it causes stretch in fascia of muscles fiber, it leads to the microtrauma of muscles fibre and when you take a proper nutrition and rest this damaged muscles fiber involve in repair work, thus the new fiber which comes, are much stronger & thicker in nature than previous one. Due to the micro-trauma of muscles fiber & repair work, your body’s BMR (basal metabolic rate) increases & you receive a better hypertrophy over a period of time.
Workout Tips To Maximise The Muscle Pump
A) CONSTANT TENSION
Tension is the force which connects the external force to the force generated by our muscles to lift the weight. Constant tension means you have to apply an equal effort to lift the weight throughout the set. In simple words, you have to hold full command over the weight during the repetition. As similar to a proverb “you should ride over the weight, not let the weight ride over you”.
To achieve constant tension the two pro tips are-
1. Grip the weight very tight.
During each repetition of a set, you should grip the weight very tight. Tight grip provides the most efficient tension in your muscles.
2. Use the cable for isolation exercises.
Isolation exercises mean exercises which target a particular muscle instead of whole muscles or muscle group. Ex:- biceps curl, triceps extension etc.
Cable exercise provide two advantage over free weight which is:-
a) They provide continuous tension. The amount of tension is the same throughout the range of motion, yielding a better stretch throughout the repetition.
b) They have a dynamic line of resistance. This means your joint can move in their full range of motion which results in stretching of the muscles to its full length because the cable is moving uniformly throughout the range of motion.
B) TIME UNDER TENSION (TUT)
1.Tempo manipulation Vary your tempo to increase the time taken during each repetition in a set. The best tempo is 3-1-1-1 seconds.
Tempo explanation: Time is taken in each phase of a single repetition. It is distributed in four phases, which are:- a) 3 second in eccentric phase,
b) 1 second isometric hold at bottom,
c) 1 second in concentric phase,
d) 1 second in the isometric hold at the top.
2. Squeeze at the top Whenever you reach the top, squeeze at that moment to increase the blood flow due to the extra force generated by the muscles at a particular moment.
3. Reduce the rest time between sets While training small muscle like biceps it should be not more than 30 seconds while training the big muscles like legs it should be between 60 to 90 seconds.
4. Include drop sets Reducing the weight after reaching the failure in a set is called drop set, try to include the drop set in your routine will maximize the muscle pump.
PRO TIP: The combination of high reps and short rest periods causes a rapid buildup of metabolic byproducts and a large spike in blood flow, while simultaneously making it harder for blood to escape, resulting in an amazing muscles pump.
Nutrition Tip To Maximise Muscles Pump
Our body is made up of 70 % water & our skeletal muscles are made up of 75% water, thus our every body part requires water to function properly. If we lose a 10 % water in our body we suffer dehydration and if the water loss is 20 % it can lead to death. Thus drinking water and maintaining body hydration level is extremely crucial for the proper functioning of every organ.
Drinking more water leads to an increase in our blood volume, blood volume is made up of red blood cell, white blood cells, platelets & plasma. Plasma takes up 55% of blood volume & it is 90 % made up of water. Thus drinking enough water will increase the concentration of plasma which leads to higher blood volume. If our blood volume is increased the veins which carry the blood gets dilated, thus resulting in widening or more opening of veins during blood flow. When we workout in this condition the working muscles gets more blood during each contraction which leads to effective muscle pump.
Two more important factor which helps us to stay hydrated are:-
A.1) Adequate Sodium Intake
Sodium is an essential electrolyte in our body, it is responsible for effective functioning of our muscle & nerves, it helps to stabilize the blood pressure within the body and the most important it maintain the water balance in & outside the cells. According to the center for disease control and prevention consuming more than 2300 mg per day, sodium is unsafe and the minimum requirement of sodium is 500 mg per day for its normal functioning. Consuming the sodium between 500mg to 2300mg is best if your goal is to hydrate your body at best.also body needs the proper amount of electrolyte mainly potassium in order to hold the water by sodium inside the cell. thus a proper electrolyte ratio should be present in the body to maximize the pump effect. A well-hydrated body will give an effective muscles pump during the workout & hence it accelerate your performance inside the gym.
PRO TIP: Consume pint Himalayan rock salt is best as it has electrolyte I.e potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron along with sodium. It helps in the better holding of water inside the cell by sodium.
A.2) Eat Carbohydrates
Carb is the macronutrients for human body & it supplies energy during any activity. It breaks down inside our body into the smallest unit “glucose”. When the body does not require glucose it stores it in the form of glycogen to use it later as a source of energy during anaerobic activity. Each gram of glycogen holds 2.7 grams of water. As glycogen is a hydrophilic molecule (water-loving) & glycogen contains 65 % of water inside it. Thus bottom line is that if you consume carbohydrate our body is going to store water which leads to hydrate our body, and a well-hydrated body leads to a great pump during a workout session inside the gym.
B) Foods for Muscles Pump
There are foods which can increase your muscles pump amazingly, the science behind this is due to. The presence of a certain component, mainly NITIC OXIDE, it is a reactive gas molecule, it is a colorless gas, basically, nitric oxide is a free radical. It is the most important molecule produced in the human body and it performs many important functions for us, the three major functions performed by nitric oxide are:-
1. Regulate blood vessels dilation.
Nitric oxide controls the relaxation and widening of our blood vessels. Due to the presence of nitric oxide in our body, our blood vessels widen up to receive the high inrush of blood flow during the workout. When the blood flow increases in the working muscles, the more amount of nutrients and oxygen will reach to the working muscles imparting a mind-blowing muscles pump which looks amazing and gives us a feeling of pleasure & satisfaction.
2.Maintain a healthy blood pressure level.
When we do a workout inside the gym, hitting the iron with our full efficiency, our body undergoes various physiological changes to match up the condition, the one of the response of vigorous exercising by our body is elevating the blood pressure level. The nitric oxide helps our body to remain in a perfect & steady blood pressure level by decreasing the elevated blood pressure caused by vigorous exercising.
Nitric oxide act as a neurotransmitter. It helps in transporting the information among cells, it aids up in the communication and signaling between the cells. Also, I want to share a fact with you that in 1998 the Nobel prize in the field of physiology and medicine is given for the discovery of nitric oxide as a cardiovascular signaling molecule.
So, all the above-listed functions make the nitric oxide very crucial molecule for a human being. In the human body, there is two mechanism by which we produce nitric oxide in our body which are:-
I) NOS (NITRIC OXIDE SYNTHASE mechanism)
II) NNN (NITRATE- NITRITE - NITRIC OXIDE Mechanism)
Both the mechanism contribute 50% - 50% to the total production of nitric oxide in the human system. When one system fails to produce nitric oxide the other will compensate the nitric oxide production, but when both fail it is a matter of serious concern.
Let's get dig dipper into the working of both the systems…
NOS (NITRIC OXIDE SYNTHASE Mechanism)
This system is ruled by an enzyme known as “nitric oxide synthase”. Nitric oxide synthase enzyme is present in the endothelial cells. (endothelial cells are present in the interior surface of blood vessels). The main job of nitric oxide synthase enzyme is to produce nitric oxide in the human body by converting the L- arginine present in our body to nitric oxide, this conversion is done by a complicated chemical reaction. ( l- arginine is a conditionally essential or semi-essential amino acid which depends upon development stage and health status of an individual, if there is preterm child whose body is not able to synthesize arginine in his body then it is considered an essential amino acid for that child while there is a healthy adult whose body is able to synthesize the arginine on its own by glutamine and Citrulline then, in this case, it acts as a non essential amino acid, every protein-rich foods have arginine its one of the components, chicken, fish, chickpeas, peanuts, pumpkin seeds are some of the high arginine-rich foods.)
Research shows that if your body does not have enough nitric oxide synthase enzyme in your system our body can not produce nitric oxide efficiently by NOS mechanism. When the nitric oxide is absent in your body the dilation of blood vessels get restricted during workout thus there will be very little to no muscles pump. The one more interesting fact about NOS mechanism is that it is an age-dependent mechanism, nitric oxide production will start decreasing as we get older by this mechanism. At the age of 40, NOS mechanism loss 50 % of its ability to produce the nitric oxide. The best way to maintain the effectiveness of this enzyme is doing a regular physical activity, Don’t smoke, and eat antioxidant-rich foods(i.e fruits, green leafy vegetables, vitamin E & C etc)
NNN (NITRATE- NITRITE - NITRIC OXIDE Mechanism)
This mechanism is the food dependent mechanism. In this mechanism, the nitric oxide is produced by eating inorganic nitrate-rich foods in our daily diet.
Inorganic nitrates ——> nitrite ——> nitric oxide.
Oral bacteria is needed to convert the Inorganic nitrate to nitrite, oral bacteria is present inside our mouth, they are formed naturally and not harmful for us. There are 70 different type of bacteria is present inside our mouth which is useful to us in the conversation of nitrate to nitrite and in further digestion the nitrite is converted into nitric oxide. When you consume nitrate-rich food there are many benefits for it, few are listed below:-
1. Increase the efficiency of mitochondria
Mitochondria is an organelle, a part of the cell, its job is to produce the energy, ATP. When you consume the nitrate-rich foods its efficiency increases & you will feel energy gets elevated in your system.
2. Reduce the energy cost of exercise
You will require less energy while doing the activity thus your exhaustion time is increased which results in high stamina and endurance in your body.
3.Effective muscle contraction.
Nitrate enable effective contraction between your muscles contractile unit, giving you a peak contraction during your workout thus providing an amazing muscles pump.
NITRATE RICH FOODS:- Beet Root, Spinach, Lettuce, Carrot, cabbage, dark leafy vegetable etc. Especially I would like to recommend two powerful foods beetroot & spinach to consume in your diet daily to maximize the muscles pump.
Benefits of BEET ROOT are:-
1. A powerhouse of valuable nutrients i.e iron, magnesium, potassium, folate, etc.
2. It is a unique source of phytonutrients (means it is high in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification properties.)
3. It stimulates red blood cells production.
4. Build stamina & endurance.
5. Reduce the oxygen cost of exercise.
6. High in nitrates.
Benefits of SPINACH are:-
1. High in nitrates.
2. High in antioxidant.
3. Rich in chlorophyll (chlorophyll is used for the production of RED BLOOD CELLS)
4. Keep your blood sugar level stable. 5. Contain phytoecdysteroids. (which increase muscle tissue growth rate)
PRO TIP: For the most effective muscle pump drink 200 ml beet root juice 30 minutes before your workout.
C) Supplements For Muscles Pump
The most effective supplement for muscle pump is Citrulline. Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid, our body can produce citrulline itself. Citrulline job is to produce arginine in our body which is then transformed into nitric oxide by an enzyme named nitric oxide synthase present in the endothelial cells of our blood vessels. Nitric oxide regulates blood vessels dilation, means it control the relaxing and widening of blood vessels. During workout when our blood vessels are in dilated form a huge amount of blood flow appears into the working muscles which will carry the nutrients & oxygen to working muscles resulting in the amazing muscles pump. When we consume citrulline in the form of supplements it will boost up the benefits of natural citrulline produced by our body.
Citrulline supplements come in two form, which is:-
1) L- Citrulline
2) Citrulline Malate.
L-Citrulline is a natural form of citrulline, the citrulline produces by our body, or the citrulline we get from foods & supplements is L-Citrulline. Almost all pre-workout supplements have l- citrulline in it.
Benefits of L- Citrulline is:-
a)Boost nitric oxide level.
Nitric oxide regulates blood vessels dilation, means it control the relaxing and widening of blood vessels. High level of nitric oxide will give us a breathtaking muscles pump.
b) Decrease fatigue & soreness.
During intense exercise, the concentration of ammonia & lactic acid concentration will increase in blood, The L-Citrulline helps to remove the ammonia from the blood because it is a one of the three amino acid present in urea cycle of our body, the L-arginine & L-Ornithine being other two. The ammonia, a toxic compound is being converted in urea, a less toxic compound & then in urine and flushed out of the body by urea cycle.
The dosage of L- citrulline: 2-6 g per day, 30 minutes before workout.
PRO TIP: To boost up the benefits of L- Citrulline combine it with glutathione, it is being a powerful antioxidant.
Natural food for L-Citrulline are:-
watermelon, squash, cucumber, pumpkin etc
1 cup watermelon will give 200-300mg l- citrulline.
The only difference between Citrulline Malate & L-Citrulline is the addition of Malic acid. Malic acid is the organic compound, it is a dicarboxylic acid, it is found in fruits, it gives fruits a sour taste. The salt of the malic acid is called Malate. The addition of malate gives energy because of malate is an important component of the tricarboxylic cycle or kerbs cycle in the human body, this cycle job is to release energy in the human body.
The Dosage of Citrulline Malate:- 6-8 g per day 1 hour before workout.
Citrulline Malate VS L-Citrulline
Citrulline Malate is a better choice because you will get all the benefit of L-Citrulline along with additional boost up of energy during the workout after taking Citrulline Malate.
Miscellaneous question: Why not to take arginine directly if the citrulline is get converted in arginine before converting in nitric oxide?
Citrulline is better in increasing the blood arginine level then arginine supplement as its digestion has the short route, secondly it has no side effect whereas arginine will result in digestive distress among some people.
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